The development of infrastructure acts as an enabler for structural
transformation, accelerating economic growth and reducing poverty.
Regional infrastructure has the potential to deliver even greater
benefits through the ability to support the development of regional
markets, link production clusters with value chains and provide access
to international trade. This is of particular importance in South Asia
and Africa where the lack of regional infrastructure is acting as a
constraint on economic growth.
After the introductory chapter, Chapter 2 describes a range of regional
experiences in infrastructure. The potential benefit from regional
infrastructure integration in sub-Saharan Africa is high. The region
includes 31 small countries with a GDP below USD10 billion and 15
landlocked countries. Intra-regional trade accounts for only 12% of
total regional trade in Africa compared to 53% in emerging Asia.
Regional integration can offer enlarged markets, leading to advantages
in specialisation, economies of scale and increased competition. A
reduction of 10% in transport costs for landlocked African countries
would increase their volume of international trade by as much as 25%. In
South Asia, regional infrastructure has the added potential for a ‘peace
dividend’. Creating economic dependencies and shared interests from a
platform of regional infrastructure can assist in the stabilisation of
intra-regional relations. This is of particular value for fragile
countries or countries which are on the cusp of becoming fragile.
The rest of the Topic Guide (Chapters 3-5) is centred on the three key
stages of regional infrastructure projects: planning, financing and
implementation. In each stage, the challenges are significant. These
- planning: the need for coordination and governance of regional
projects involving multiple stakeholders in one or more countries.
Discussed in Chapter 3;
- financing: the need for large-scale and multi-year financing from
multiple sources in both the public and private sectors where barriers
to private-sector investments are high. Discussed in Chapter 4;
- implementation: the need for strong programme governance, which
ensures integrity and efficiency and manages complex interdependencies
within programmes. Discussed in Chapter 5.
There is a range of cross-cutting issues around regional infrastructure
that run through the Topic Guide:
- harmonisation of hard and soft infrastructure;
- logistics management across different countries;
- sharing of costs and benefits across different countries and
This Topic Guide has been produced by the Overseas Development Institute
for Evidence on Demand with the assistance of the UK Department for
International Development (DFID) contracted through the Climate,
Environment, Infrastructure and Livelihoods Professional Evidence and
Applied Knowledge Services (CEIL PEAKS) programme, jointly managed by
DAI (which incorporates HTSPE Limited) and IMC Worldwide Limited.
te Velde, D.W.; Tyson, J.; Steele, A. Topic Guide: Regional infrastructure in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia: unblocking constraints and enabling effective policy intervention. Evidence on Demand, UK (2015) x + 54 pp. [DOI: 10.12774/eod_tg.june2015.willemteveldedetal]